Anne Arundel County on reopening plans
- The Daily Beast
REUTERS/Jane RosenbergAs Derek Chauvin’s murder trial comes to a close, both sides made their closing arguments on Monday, with prosecutors insisting the former Minneapolis cop’s fatal arrest of George Floyd wasn’t “policing” but “murder”—as his defense claimed he used “reasonable” force.Prosecutors on Monday detailed to jurors in Hennepin County court how Chauvin’s decision to press his knee into the 46-year-old Black man’s neck while he repeated that he could not breathe was unjustifiable and inhumane.“The truth of the matter is that the reason that George Floyd is dead is that Mr. Chauvin’s heart was too small,” special prosecutor Jerry Blackwell said Monday just before the case was sent to the 12-member jury.Prosecutor Steve Schleicher also insisted the officer “knew better; he just didn’t do better” during Floyd’s May 25 arrest over a fake $20 bill. “What [Chauvin] did is not policing. What [Chauvin] did is assault.”“That day, his badge wasn’t in the right place. He’s not on trial for who he was. He’s on trial for what he did,” Schleicher argued, adding that Chauvin “chose pride over policing.” During his closing argument—which lasted 2 hours and 47 minutes—defense attorney Eric Nelson argued that Chauvin was distracted while dealing with the growing anger from bystanders—and failed to notice that Floyd had stopped breathing. “A reasonable police officer will hear the frustration growing...the increase of the volume of the voices...will hear the name-calling...they’ll take that into their consideration,” Nelson said. “Officers are human beings capable of making mistakes in highly stressful situations.”“There is absolutely no evidence that Officer Chauvin intentionally, purposefully applied unlawful force,” Nelson claimed.Defense Expert Claims Exhaust From Cop Car Contributed to George Floyd’s DeathThe closing arguments come after four weeks of testimony in the watershed trial. During the trial, prosecutors have insisted to jurors that Chauvin, 45, “betrayed” his badge when he ignored Floyd’s dozens of pleas for help as he knelt on his neck for a total of “9 minutes and 29 seconds” over a suspected counterfeit $20 bill. During the arrest, Floyd cried out he could not breathe a staggering 27 times before losing consciousness.Chauvin “heard him and all he did was mock him, [saying] ‘It takes a lot of oxygen to complain,’” Schleicher said. “George Floyd struggled, desperate to breathe, to make enough room in his chest to breathe. But the force was too much. He was trapped, with the unyielding pavement beneath him, as unyielding as the men who held him down,” Schleicher said. “A grown man, crying out for his mother. A human being.”Prosecutors called 38 witnesses over 11 days. Among those were five current and former cops—as well as the Minneapolis police chief, who said Chauvin used excessive force in violation of his training and department protocol. Three medical experts concluded Floyd died of low oxygen, or asphyxia, from Chauvin’s actions during the arrest, while several bystanders, family members, and friends of Floyd gave days of emotional testimony.Schleicher insisted Monday that Floyd’s death “wasn’t a sudden cardiac arrhythmia, a heart attack, a drug overdose, a death from underlying conditions or an accident. It was an intentional act by Chauvin.”“The government put on a very strong case. I thought that the testimony of the chief and other officers that the force was not authorized or part of [the] training was very effective. It is rare to have testimony from police officers in these cases other than retained experts. The cross of the use-of-force witnesses was largely ineffective,” Jonathan Smith, the executive director of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, told The Daily Beast.Chauvin’s defense lawyer, however, argued that his client was simply doing what “he was trained to do throughout his 19-year career,” calling on seven witnesses in two days and focusing heavily on Floyd’s previous health issues and alternative explanations for his death. Chauvin declined to testify on his own defense, invoking his Fifth Amendment right. On Monday, Nelson compared criminal cases to baking chocolate cookies and emphasized the high standard of reasonable doubt. “Space aliens flew in and inhabited the body of Derek Chauvin and caused this death. That’s fanciful,” Nelson said.The defense attorney then focused on two key points: The state has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Floyd died as a direct result of Chauvin’s actions and the ex-officer must have intentionally harmed him.“The use of force is an incredibly difficult analysis,” Nelson insisted, urging the jury to look at the totality of the incident and not just the nine minutes that Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck. “You can’t limit it to 9 minutes and 29 seconds, but it started nearly 17 minutes earlier.”The defense attorney argued that several factors could have contributed to Floyd’s death, including carbon monoxide poisoning from the police squad car or drug overdose.Smith, a former official in the Department of Justice’s civil-rights division who also led the independent investigation into Elijah McClain’s death at the hands of police in Colorado, said he believed Nelson’s defense was “more effective at trying to create confusion on the cause of death” than anything else.Defense Expert in Chauvin Trial: Knee on George Floyd Was ‘Justified,’ Caused No Pain“The controversy on whether Mr. Floyd had an enlarged heart and about carbon monoxide blood levels should have been avoidable for the prosecution, but it is unclear whether it will matter much in the end,” he said, before noting that conviction in police cases are rare. “Even in light of the very strong case by the state, it remains to be seen what the jury will do.”The idea of creating confusion in the courtroom also caused late drama in the case when prosecutors slammed the defense’s witnesses who seemed to suggest Floyd could have died from carbon monoxide poisoning.On Thursday, Martin Tobin, a renowned pulmonologist who testified that Floyd’s airflow was so restricted it was “as if a surgeon had gone in and removed” his lung, was called back to the stand at the last minute to rebut the bizarre idea the squad car’s exhaust contributing to Floyd’s death.The idea was brought forward by David Fowler, a forensic pathologist, without any data or test results. Tobin’s testimony also came after prosecutors said they got last-minute test results of “blood gas readings” that show Floyd’s carbon monoxide levels were normal.Andrew Baker, the Hennepin County medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Floyd, also testified for the defense that the 46-year-old died of “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law-enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression” and that heart disease, fentanyl use, and methamphetamine were “other significant conditions.”“The defense seems to have put most of its marbles in that basket,” said Mike Lawlor, an associate professor at the University of New Haven and a former prosecutor, added about Floyd’s cause of death. He added to The Daily Beast that the defense’s “expert witnesses did not really undermine the state’s case–and “have bolstered it to some extent.”While the defense seemed focused on sowing doubt, prosecutors leaned heavily on emotional testimony and showing jurors the deep trauma that watching Floyd’s death caused so many people.“The most moving, and searing part of the trial were the eyewitnesses. Their testimony was compelling and impactful. The trauma that they experienced watching Mr. Floyd be killed and the helplessness they felt in being unable to stop Chauvin came through clearly,” Smith said.Among the group were an off-duty Minneapolis firefighter and EMT—who said she was ignored after repeatedly offering her assistance—as well as an MMA fighter who tried to explain that Chauvin’s chokehold was cutting off Floyd’s circulation. Several teenagers, and one 9-year-old girl, also testified how they begged the officers to stop as Floyd was “gasping for air.”“You could see his eyes slowly, you know, rolling back up and in his head, and him having his mouth open, wide open,” MMA fighter Donald Williams, who is heard in the viral video yelling at Chauvin to release Floyd, testified during the trial. Eventually, Williams said, Floyd began to “fade away, like a fish in a bag” before he lost consciousness.As prosecutors played the viral video to jurors on Monday, Chauvin kept his eyes down at the defense table.“George Floyd was not a threat to anyone,” Schleicher said Monday while lightly pounding his hand onto the lectern before insisting to jurors that “no courage was shown that day” while Floyd begged for his life in front of strangers. “George Floyd begged until he could speak no more and the defendant continued this assault.”“No courage was required, all that was required was a little compassion and none was shown on that day,” the prosecutor added. Throughout the trial, jurors also got a peek into how cracked the thin blue line really is in Minneapolis. In addition to Police Chief Medaria Arradondo’s sharp rebuke of Chauvin’s actions, several current and former police officials all disagreed with the use of force.‘Totally Unnecessary’: Cops Desert Derek Chauvin on the Witness Stand“Totally unnecessary. First of all, pulling him down to the ground face-down and putting your knee on a neck for that amount of time is just uncalled for,” Lt. Richard Zimmerman, the longest-serving officer in Chauvin’s old department, testified. “I saw no reason why the officers felt they were in danger. And that’s what they would have to feel to be able to use that kind of force.”The defense, however, tried to smooth over the clear signal that Chauvin has been abandoned by his former peers, bringing forward former cop Barry Vance Brodd, who insisted the former law enforcer’s knee restraint on Floyd was not a “use of force”—but a “control technique” because it caused him no pain.Lawlor added that while he believes that the prosecution did an “excellent job,” the defense did poke holes in the theory Chauvin inequitably caused Floyd’s death—but that the matter is now up to the jury. The sequestered jury will now decide whether Chauvin is guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.To do so, the 12-person jury will have to unanimously agree that Chauvin caused Floyd’s death, intentionally intended to commit harm, and acted unreasonably as a police officer by not adhering to the training of the Minneapolis Police Department.“It’s clear to me that Chauvin expects to be heading to prison at some point. How long he spends there is in the hands of this jury,” Lawlor said, adding that for the defense, “their only hope at this point [is] reasonable doubt.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- The Independent
‘If the effect is deleterious to the ability of people of colour to participate in elections, then that is problematic and that is wrong,’ Abrams says
- USA TODAY
A social media post falsely claims that Rep. Ilhan Omar said police shouldn't exist because some cops are Jewish.
- LA Times
Minneapolis court draws crowd as jury deliberates in Derek Chauvin trial in the murder of George Floyd
- The Independent
George W Bush says Derek Chauvin murder trial was conducted ‘fairly’ in first live interview in three years
Former President George W Bush weighed in on the murder trial of former Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin during a recent interview, calling the process "fair" but abstaining from giving his prediction on the verdict. Mr Bush appeared on NBC's "TODAY," where he weighed in on a number of topics, including the modern Republican party and the trial of Mr Chauvin. The appearance was Mr Bush's first live television interview in three years.
- USA TODAY
Dwight Cenac lost his class ring 20 years ago. It finally made its way back after being found on the ocean floor off the coast of Honduras.
- The Independent
Republican Thomas Massie was the lone member to vote against the resolution
- The Daily Beast
Anas Alkharboutli/GettyA group of British academics was secretly in contact with Russian diplomats in four separate embassies as they worked to undermine evidence that Bashar al-Assad was using chemical weapons against his own people, according to emails seen by The Daily Beast.The documents were obtained as part of a sting operation on one member of the group that was disclosed last month by the BBC and The Times of London. Paul McKeigue, a Professor of Genetic Epidemiology and Statistical Genetics at the University of Edinburgh’s College of Medicine, was duped into sharing the inner workings of the so-called Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media by emails from someone calling himself “Ivan,” who implied he was a Russian intelligence officer.The Working Group consists of a handful of university professors (none with any expertise in Syria or the Middle East), who have spent years suggesting that the Assad regime has been framed for war crimes in an elaborate conspiracy consisting of Syrian rebels, White Helmet rescue workers, and the American and British intelligence services. Moreover, the Working Group alleges that conspiracy has been systematically laundered through journalists, academics and human rights workers who they believe to be CIA or MI6 agents.Some of these completely unproven theories have been taken up enthusiastically on social media and used to sow disinformation about Assad’s war crimes.In an apparent effort to further the conspiracy theories, McKeigue was all too happy to collude with someone he thought was one of Vladimir Putin’s spies.In the emails with “Ivan,” McKeigue boasted about his interactions with Russian officials, a journalist who worked for the Russian state media and WikiLeaks, which “very likely knew it was assisting a Russian intelligence influence effort” during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, according to a Senate Subcommittee on Intelligence report.McKeigue told “Ivan” in February that WikiLeaks had helped him secure free legal advice from one of Julian Assange’s personal lawyers, Melinda Taylor.The emails claim that Taylor had been communicating with the British epidemiologist since at least September 2019, when she sent him a lengthy “legal advice memorandum” detailing ways to make litigious claims against the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), an intergovernmental body that seeks to implement the worldwide ban on the stockpiling and use of chemical weapons such as sarin gas, which suffocates its drooling and vomiting victims to death.McKeigue refers to the memorandum as one way of conducting “lawfare” against the chemical watchdog—a term typically invoked to mean frivolous or harassing litigation. He said Taylor provided him with the memorandum, pro bono, to advance claims of impropriety among members of the OPCW.According to the emails, the advice memorandum also led to Taylor’s husband, Geoffrey Roberts, representing Brendan Whelan, a former OPCW employee who went rogue and criticized the group’s investigations, leaking material to WikiLeaks.McKeigue told “Ivan” that he could reach Whelan via Alexander Shulgin, Russia’s ambassador to the Netherlands and its permanent representative to the OPCW.“Brendan keeps in contact with your embassy in Den Haag,” McKeigue wrote. “So if you wanted someone to make an introduction (for one of your diplomats, not in a covert role) to Melinda [Taylor] and Geoff [Roberts], this would be a possible route. Brendan knows them better than I do.”McKeigue, Taylor and Roberts declined to comment to The Daily Beast.The emails also show that Taylor corresponded with McKeigue to discuss the secret location of the Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA), an NGO that has compiled documentary evidence of war crimes in Syria carried out by the Assad regime and ISIS. Some of their evidence was used in the first successful Syrian war crimes prosecution in Germany.It was CIJA that orchestrated the sting on McKeigue when they grew frustrated by the Working Group’s fixation on undermining evidence against Assad. CIJA was running the “Ivan” account all along.In the correspondence collected by the NGO, McKeigue outlined to his presumed Russian intelligence contact “complicated lines of communication” between the Working Group and a network of Russian Foreign Ministry officials in four separate embassies around the world: The Hague, New York, London, and Geneva. Russian diplomats, he noted, had been corresponding with members of the Working Group for a presentation at a January 2020 Arria formula meeting of the UN Security Council, convened by Russia in order to sow skepticism about the OPCW’s still-pending investigation.McKeigue wrote that he worked personally with Stepan Ankeev, an official at the Russian embassy in London, to put the plan in motion, while his Working Group associates kept in touch with other Russian diplomats in other countries. “But in the end it all worked out okay,” McKeigue wrote. “The only other diplomatic communication we have had is with Sergey Krutskikh in Geneva, who is Vanessa’s contact but has occasionally passed information to the Working Group via Piers.”“Piers” refers to Piers Robinson, the founder of the Working Group and an outspoken commentator on Syria on Twitter. “Vanessa” is Vanessa Beeley, perhaps the most prominent and controversial member of the Working Group. A former waste management consultant turned blogger, Beeley became a fixture on RT, the Russian government’s English language propaganda network, for her willingness to add all manner of unsubstantiated and imaginative allegations about the Syria conflict.She has repeatedly accused the White Helmets, an internationally funded rescue organization, of staging chemical attacks in Syria otherwise attributed to the Assad regime.Beeley and Robinson’s purported contact in Switzerland, Sergey Krutskikh, is secretary to Russia’s mission at the UN. He is also the son of a better-known Russian diplomat, Andrey Krutskikh, who was appointed early last year as the first director of Russian Foreign Ministry’s newly minted Department of International Information Security, which coordinates with European countries on cybersecurity.McKeigue also boasted to his supposed Russian handler about his work with state media employees at Ruptly, a streaming video platform based in Germany, which is funded by the Kremlin.The British academic was given screen captures from a database of sensitive personal details on activists and war crimes witnesses collected through interviews conducted on the ground in Syria by Ruptly staff. McKeigue passed the details on to “Ivan,” despite the apparent threat to these people.After a while, McKeigue decided that his contact at Ruptly was insufficiently loyal to the cause and asked “Ivan” to investigate him.Nerma Jelacic, the CIJA’s director of external relations and a member of the sting op, told The Daily Beast that the disclosure that Russian diplomats and state-run media outlets were working with the Working Group helped to explain why this otherwise obscure collection of academics had managed to make headlines around the world. “These networks would have remained nothing more than a bunch of marginalized ideologues and conspiracists,” Jelacic said.She added, “Russia’s disinformation campaigns about Syria would be far less effective if they had to rely solely on statements from the Russian foreign and ministries rather than on what Westerner academics and self-described ‘whistleblowers’ have said.”McKeigue’s correspondence with “Ivan” has been passed to British authorities. The University of Edinburgh continues to insist his commentary on Syria has been undertaken as a private citizen and not on behalf of the institution; it affirms McKeigue’s right to free expression.Kristyan Benedict, Amnesty International U.K. Campaigns Manager, told The Daily Beast: “Syrian victims and their families who have endured many horrors [deserve justice]. These individuals, quite disgracefully, are trying to deny Syrians these rights. They won’t succeed.”This piece is part of a joint investigation between The Daily Beast and Newlines magazine who have a more detailed analysis here.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- Miami Herald
State Rep. Bobby DuBose entered the race on Tuesday for Alcee Hastings’ former congressional seat after his death on April 6, the fourth sitting lawmaker to enter a crowded Democratic primary.
MONTREAL (Reuters) -The Canadian province of Quebec said on Tuesday it would appeal a court ruling that exempts some teachers and provincial politicians from a controversial law that bans public employees from wearing religious symbols. The ruling, which upheld most of a 2019 law, stops it from applying to educators in Quebec's minority English-language school boards since they hold special rights over education under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Quebec Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette said the decision would be appealed to ensure that it applies to all.
- The Telegraph
Scotland's appalling drug death tally will "undoubtedly" rise to a new record this year, experts warned yesterday after Nicola Sturgeon admitted her government "took our eye off the ball". Annemarie Ward, chief executive of the recovery organisation FAVOR Scotland, said the "situation on the ground is getting worse" despite Ms Sturgeon announcing more than £250 million of new funding and sacking her public health minister. Ms Ward, an SNP member, warned "the current system is broken" and users in the areas with the worst drugs problem, such as Glasgow, are still being denied access to treatment. She was appearing alongside Douglas Ross, the Scottish Tory leader, who unveiled a 'Right to Rehab' pledge that would enshrine people’s right to access residential rehabilitation services in law. Scotland currently has the worst drugs death rate in Europe and a rate around three and a half times worse than England and Wales. The latest figures released in December showed 1,265 people died from drug misuse in 2019 - a six per cent annual rise and more than double the total of deaths in 2014. Mr Ross challenged Ms Sturgeon during a TV debate last week why she had allowed a drug rehabilitation facility in her own Glasgow Southside constituency to close two years ago, despite the surge in deaths. The First Minister replied that "I think we took our eye off the ball on drug deaths", but Ruth Davidson said this was "an astonishing shrug of the shoulders" and suggested the SNP leader had been distracted by independence.
- LA Times
The Chargers are paying wide receiver Mike Williams plenty to keep him on the roster, but is he part of the team's long-term plans?
(Reuters) -Messaging platform Discord Inc has ended deal talks with Microsoft Inc and plans to focus on expanding the business as a standalone company, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday. Microsoft and Discord did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Reuters had reported in March that Microsoft was in talks to buy Discord for more than $10 billion.
- The Telegraph
Liz Truss has thrown down the gauntlet to her Australian counterpart over “glacially slow” progress in trade deal talks, as her allies urged Canberra to “show us the colour of their money”. The International Trade Secretary is preparing for showdown negotiations with Dan Tehan, Australia’s trade minister, after he accepted her invitation to meet face-to-face in London this week. Sources in her department told The Telegraph that Australia needs to show “some serious movement on their side” to unblock negotiations on a free trade agreement, which are said to have stalled since Mr Tehan took up the role in December. By contrast the first four rounds of talks, led by his predecessor Simon Birmingham and Ms Truss, made “really rapid progress”, it is claimed. Canberra has been accused of being “slow to move on key UK asks”, including on sensitive areas in services, investment and business visas – particularly in legal services and management consultancy. These sectors are viewed as central to the British economy’s recovery from the pandemic. The UK also wants to see Australian tariffs slashed on Scotch whisky and cars, both levied at 5 per cent at present. By turns Canberra is pushing for bigger wins on agriculture, particularly lower tariffs on meat exported to Britain. A bilateral trade deal between the two nations is expected to boost UK exports to Australia by around £900 million. Mr Tehan arrives in the UK on Wednesday evening and the two-day dialogue begins on Thursday. He is expected to launch a media and PR blitz while in London. The source close to Ms Truss quipped: “She plans to sit him down in the Locarno Room [in the Foreign Office] in an uncomfortable chair, so he has to deal with her directly for nine hours.” The ally said that Mr Tehan and Ms Truss have struck up a good rapport, but added: “He is inexperienced compared to Liz. He needs to show that he can play at this level. “Australia need to show us the colour of their money. They’re great friends of ours and talk a good game about free trade and wanting a deal, but they need to match those words with action.” It is thought that there is pressure on Mr Tehan to make a substantial breakthrough before flying back to Australia on Friday night, given the rare exception made for him to leave the country amid its strict closure of the borders due to Covid. British officials believe it is highly unlikely, although not impossible, that a trade deal could be clinched between the pair before his departure, but if the talks unblock the remaining issues, an agreement could be achievable within six to eight weeks. Ms Truss believes that in-person talks at the political level hold the key to finalising the deal. She successfully employed a similar tactic with Japan last summer, using “occasionally fiery face-to-face negotiations” with her Japanese counterpart to make headway over the most contentious issues. Annual UK trade with Australia is worth over £18 billion, with services accounting for 60 per cent. There is a wider strategic importance to a bilateral trade deal for Britain, because the Government wants to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) – the £9 trillion free trade area in which Australia is a key player – later this year. Striking a UK-Australia deal would pave the way towards eventual British membership of the trading bloc, which is viewed by Whitehall as a crucial counterweight to China and its trade practices that are accused of distorting markets.
- The Independent
‘We believe that ‘cancel culture’ only exists to the weak and cowering, not to the real Patriots,’ event’s website reads
- The Independent
Tim Walz says local and state resources ‘exhausted’ by Brooklyn Centre killing
- Raleigh News and Observer
LaMelo Ball, the NBA’s top rookie the first three months, has been out since March 20
An ally of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said on Monday she was braced for bad news on the health of the hunger-striking opposition politician when his lawyers see him again, after they were kept away over the weekend. Navalny, a prominent opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, started refusing food on March 31 in protest at what he said was the refusal of prison authorities to provide him with adequate medical care for acute leg and back pain. Navalny's allies said at the weekend his life was hanging by a thread, and announced plans for what they hope will be the largest protests in modern Russian history on Wednesday.
- The State
Blue Devils added two grad transfers last week
- The Independent
Progressive New York lawmaker calls for ‘all-hands-on-deck approach’ to climate crisis